ag festival3

Third-graders reach in to pet three piglets during a session on pork production at the Ag Literacy Festival in Arlington in 2017. This year's festival is set for April 24-26 at the Washington County Fairgrounds. 

Although their trip to Arlington may be a little longer than usual, area third-graders will again get a glimpse into the agricultural industry at the annual Ag Literacy Festival at the Washington County Fairgrounds next week.

While devastating flooding took out roads leading into Arlington, and made a mess at the Washington County Fairgrounds last month, more than 1,000 third graders will again spend some time interacting with and learning about their favorite farm animals during the festival on April 24-26.

The yearly event is organized by Nebraska Extension faculty and staff in Washington County and caters to third-graders schools in Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Burt and Washington counties.

Since beginning in 2000, more than 11,600 Burt, Colfax, Cuming, Dodge, Douglas, Saunders and Washington County third-grade students have attended.

Not only will students get to see all of their favorite farm animals up close and in person, but they will also learn about the importance of agricultural and food confidence at the festival, says Nebraska Extension Educator and event organizer Tracy Behnken.

“By providing agriculture education, Nebraska Extension strives to increase youths’ knowledge of our food system that include production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management; and help them develop a better understanding, confident attitudes and interests regarding the food system,” Behnken said. “As a result, youth will be better informed about the role agriculture plays in the state and local economy as well as in their daily lives.”

At the festival, students learn about some of the state’s main agricultural outputs such as beef cattle, dairy, hogs, corn and soybeans.

“We want to teach kids about agriculture and how it is a big component of Nebraska economics, but really the purpose is to teach them about where their food comes from and gaining food confidence,” Behnken said. “When they know where their food comes from they can be confident about their food.”

During the three-day event, third-graders at Clarmar, Howard, Washington, Bell Field, Linden and Milliken Park and Archbishop Bergan will all attend the event.

According to Behnken, a big part of the success of the Ag Literacy Festival is sponsors who cover the cost of transporting the students to and from the fairgrounds in Arlington.

“We really rely on our presenters and sponsors, we have producers that come, a lot of extension faculty and staff, and we are actually supported through our sponsors that through the sponsorship pay for transportation. That is a big reason that a lot of the students can come because a lot of schools don’t treat it as a field trip they treat it as additional education,” she said.

This year’s financial sponsors include Corteva Agriscience—Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, Douglas County Farm Bureau Federation, Midwest Dairy—Nebraska Division, Nebraska Beef Council, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Two Rivers Bank, Washington County Cattlemen, Washington County Farm Bureau.

In-kind support is provided by Nebraska Extension and the Washington County Fair Board, while student and teacher packets were provided by AFAN, Midwest Dairy, Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, and UNL.

Session sponsors include Platte Valley Equipment, Rob Vogt Family, Matt Marquardt and Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Inc., Hilgenkamp Farms, Midwest Dairy-Nebraska Division, and Mohrview Farm, Inc.

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